reddish browns from chestnut to mahogany, some white on chest and feet acceptable. No other colors are allowed.
26-28 inches (66-71cm)
65-75 pounds (29-34kg)
24-26 inches (61-66cm)
55-65 pounds (25-29kg)
Indoors or outdoors prefers room to move and explore. A larger yard is important.
The Irish Setter is a long, lean looking dog that is very athletic and energetic looking without appearing hyperactive or rambunctious. The overall appearance of the breed is one of grace and agility as well as intelligence and excellent disposition.
The head of the Irish Setter is rather long with a definite stop between the eyes and the muzzle. The muzzle is very straight and elongated in shape but not tapered or heavy looking. The nose is always wide and black, with wide and noticable openings on the nostrils. They eyes are well set and almond shaped, usually a chestnut or dark hazel color and they are soft and gentle in expression. The ears are very soft and triangular shaped but carried folded over and rather low on the side of the head. The skull is very rounded on top, giving a soft appearance to the head when viewed from the front or the side. The hair on the face is short and very soft, but feathering is noticeable on the ears.
The neck is somewhat long and graceful looking, sloping into strong and well developed shoulders. The legs are well-boned and muscled but don't appear heavy or over-developed. There is noticeable fringing or furnishings on the front and back legs. The chest is rather narrow yet also deep, ideal for moving though brush or water. The body is longer than the height of the dog at the shoulders. The topline is sloping from the withers to the tail, which is usually carried either down when relaxed or horizontally when the dog is working, happy or moving about. Typically Irish Setters will be very active tail wagers, and their beautiful tail really is a highlight of the breed.
The coat may be somewhat longer or shorter depending on the breeding and line. Overall field lines or working dogs will have a shorter coat and will be more energetic and athletic than the show lines which are heavier and have a the longer showier coat style. The longer coat is very silky and long with natural waves that add to the depth of the body of the dog. The shorter coat has the same fringes and furnishings as well as the beautiful sheen and wavy, distinctive coat. The hair around the neck, underbelly and chest is slightly longer than the rest of the hair on the body.
The coat is medium long, thick and flat and soft to the touch. The reddish brown coat can be wavy or straight but is never curly. The breed has distinctive furnishing on the legs, tail and underbelly that are more pronounced on the longer coated show lines. Field lines may have a much shorter coat but will always have the same coloration.
The Irish Setter was first developed as a color variation on the original Red and White Setter breed in the 1700's in Ireland and other areas in the United Kingdom. In the 1800's breeders started to select the more solid colored dogs in the Red and White Setter group to develop the all red, solid Irish Setter we know today. Originally the Irish Setter was known as the Irish Red Setter, but this name is no longer used in registries.
The Irish Setter, prior to 1862, was used strictly as a hunting dog. They have a unique tendency to run in a zigzag pattern in front of the hunter, scanning the area for scents. The Irish Setter was trained to be both a scent dog, a pointing dog and a retriever. This all round hunting combination was extremely popular especially with hunters than were hunting on their own or only had the ability to have one dog with them.
In 1862 an Irish Red Setter was born that set the standards for the current breed. It was longer, more angular, faster and had a more distinctive face and coat than the other dogs in the breed at the time. This dog, named Champion Palmerston. Almost all Irish Setters can trace their lineage back to Champion Palmerston and his features are still evident in the breed standards used today. It is interesting to note that the original owner of Champion Palmerston did not like his looks and actually ordered the puppy to be killed, but it was given to another dog breeder that began showing the dog and started winning competitions.
The temperament of the Irish Setter is gentle, kind and very even mannered. They are somewhat energetic dogs that need to have a place to run and romp as well as regular interaction with their family. The Irish Setter is a very people oriented dog and would prefer to be with then family rather than alone. They do not do well in kennels or small confined spaces although they will easily adjust to living indoors with lots of opportunity for regular walks and time outdoors.
As puppies many Irish Setters are rather impulsive and clownish and love to play and spend time with people. They will almost housetrain themselves given the chance to get outside after meals and activity times. They are a very intelligent breed that does have natural tendencies to be somewhat independent. The Irish Setter is not a dominant breed nor is it dog aggressive unless provoked. They are ideal companion dogs for almost any type or breed of dog and have the energy to play all day if allowed. The Irish Setter will get along very well with other non-canine pets and is usually very fond of cats if properly socialized. Some Irish Setters are more prone to chasing so raising them as puppies with cats will help prevent this from becoming a problem.
Irish Setters are ideal family dogs and love to spend time with children. They are excellent even with very small children and are often found simply walking around young kids out playing in the yard, staying active in what the kids are doing. When properly trained the will respond to even a very young child's command which makes them ideal dogs for families. The Irish Setter has unlimited patience with children and is not aggressive in any way towards family children or guests.
The Irish Setter is not a guard or watch dog and will often greet total strangers with a happy expression and a wag of the tail. Often the Irish Setter will bark a greeting to family before they will bark to notify the family that people are arriving.
The Irish Setter makes a great traveling, jogging, hiking or walking companion. They are naturally energetic and athletic and are always interested in doing whatever the family is involved in.
In addition some occasionally seen Health conditions include growth problems (OCD) in puppies, megaesophagus, Epilepsy, Hemophilia A and Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) which causes lameness in young dogs. Typically checking DNA of Breeding pairs will reduce the likeliness of any of these conditions. A reputable breeder will always perform these tests before breeding the dogs, and purchasing a puppy from an established breeder is the best way to avoid these conditions.
The Irish Setter has a flat, thick and smooth coat that requires some daily care but not excessive care. The field lines that have the shorter coat require less care than the longer coats of the show lines. Both types of Irish Setters have natural oils in their coats that make them water-resistant and help the coat stay free from dirt and debris. Washing or bathing the Irish Setter breed should only be done when absolutely necessary to avoid stripping these oils from the coat. If the coat needs to be freshened up or deodorized a dry powder shampoo is a better option than a full bath, but even this should be used with limits and very infrequently.
To groom the Irish Setter use a stiff bristle brush or pin brush in the direction of hair growth. In the longer coated lines be sure to push the hair backwards then brush back into position to remove even small tangles further up on the hair. The furnishings on the legs, ears and tail as well as the longer hair on the ruff and underbelly can be easily combed with a thick tooth metal comb.
Most Irish Setters will not need any type of clipping or trimming, although some owners may clip the furnishings on the legs to prevent tangling. The ears should always be checked every grooming session for any signs of infection or irritation as the breed is prone to ear problems. The wax can easily build up in the tightly folded over ears and bacteria can cause infections.
The Irish Setter may also have skin allergies so watch for any signs of licking, chewing or pulling of the hair on the body. These patches, known as "hot spots" can cause serious skin infections as well as hair loss in patches on the body, but early detection and treatment can minimize any damage that may occur.
The Irish Setter is a highly active breed that requires additional exercise on a daily basis to avoid becoming highly distracted and unmanageable. They are an excellent breed for active families and individuals that enjoy spending time outdoors, regardless of the activity. Irish Setters are natural retrievers and will enjoy running to chase a ball or a stick for as long as the owner is willing to keep throwing.
To keep this dog in excellent shape at least one long walk per day is required, especially with the option to run off leash and explore. Since they are a natural scent dog they may have a tendency to get on a trail and follow it, so training must be complete before taking the dog out off leash. In addition this breed enjoys getting into the water for a swim, which is also excellent exercise for the breed.
One of the benefits of the Irish Setter breed is that with a large, fenced yard they will self-exercise very well. They do much better with a companion dog that is also fairly active and will engage in play and romps during the day.
The Irish Setter is not recommended for apartment life or for very quiet families that are not active. This breed loves to be engaged with people in their exercise and really loves to rough house and play with kids. The Irish Setter does not do well in kennel or run unless for brief periods of time.
The Irish Setter is a very intelligent and alert dog that has a high ability to problem solve and think independently. To train the Irish Setter the owner must work with the dog and enter into a partnership, not try to dominant or force the dog into participating in the training exercise. They love to please and will simply follow commands to please the trainer they have bonded with. Spending time and making this dog a part of the families life is key to obedience and training.
While not a dominant dog the Irish Setter can be stubborn and somewhat independent at times. Typically they tend to be less complaint when they have not had the correct amount of exercise. Always start training sessions with a game, a long walk, or some time to run off leash to burn off excess energy. Once they have physically exercised this breed is ready for mental challenges. The Irish Setter does not need continuous repetitive instruction and will often learn commands within one or two training sessions.
Never train an Irish Setter using harsh or negative methods. They need to feel part of the owner's life and always should be given lots of positive attention and interactions. Since they are a hunting breed they can be taught hand signals or to respond to whistle commands.
Irish setters can be trained to compete in various events including agility, obedience, tracking, hunting and retrieving events. They are very self-assured dogs that are not worried about performing in front of people, nor are they shy or timid if properly socialized and trained.